Rustin Dodd of The Athletic reports that Royals manager Ned Yost has decided to move struggling starter Jason Hammel to the bullpen. Burch Smith will start in Hammel’s place against the Twins on Wednesday.
Hammel, 35, is 2-11 with a 6.16 ERA and a 66/31 K/BB ratio in 102 1/3 innings this season. He leads all starters in losses, hits allowed (134), and earned runs allowed (70). He is taking the move in stride, saying, “It’s a little slice of humble pie. But sometimes it’s necessary to reshape, reinvent, right the ship. I’ll go down and help out.”
Hammel is in the second year of his two-year, $16 million contract signed in February 2017. The contract includes a $12 million mutual option for the 2019 season with a $2 million buyout. The Royals will likely elect to buy him out after the season.
The Royals acquired Smith, 28, from the Mets in exchange for a player to be named later or cash last December. Smith has pitched 38 1/3 innings, all in relief, for the Royals this season, compiling a 5.40 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 21 walks. Yost said of Smith, “He’s got more of a starter’s mentality than a reliever, if you understand what I’m saying. It takes him a long time to get loose. He’s got routines. It’s not good for a reliever.”
On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.
There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.
Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.
Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.